Guide to Website Navigation Design Patterns

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As Bill mentioned in an earlier post, we do not want to limit this blog to just the principles and patterns found in the book. For that you can check out our Explore the Book section. In the spirit of that, I want to share an additional set of principles and patterns I have been using for RIA design. While the book takes a much more consumer web site orientation, these concepts are central to enterprise application and web productivity application design and more broad than those discussed in the book.

With more companies turning to RIA frameworks for enterprise software development, these screen patterns are indispensable for product managers, UX designers, information architects, interaction designers and developers. The patterns rely heavily upon desktop design principles, subtly blended with many of the better RIA components and principles. I've included 100 examples to illustrate these patterns, pulled from desktop, Flex / AIR, Ajax, Laszlo, and Silverlight applications.

master / detail

Master / Detail screen pattern can be vertical or horizontal. Ideal for creating an efficient user experience by allowing the user to stay in the same screen while navigating between items. Horizontal layout is a good choice when the user needs to see more information in the master list than just a few identifiers- or when the master view is comprised of a set of items that each have additional details. Click on thumbnail for larger image OR download the PDF.

column browse

The Browse screen pattern can be vertical or horizontal. Ideal for creating an custom user experience by allowing the user to start from various entry points for navigating to the item (s) they are interested in.

search / results

The Search screen pattern can range from very simple to quite advanced. Ideal for creating an efficient user experience by allowing the user to navigate directly to an item or set of items meeting specific criteria.

filter dataset

The Filter Dataset screen pattern can be vertical or horizontal. Ideal for creating an efficient user experience by allowing the user to refine a set of known data, or further refine search results.


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Ux enhancing design layouts (the z-pattern and the f-pattern)

User experience (or UX for short) is one of the key defining features of any software application. Most people tend to think that UX is the same thing as UI, but this is not true. UI, or User Interfaces are just the pages that a user will come across when using a software application. However, UX goes far beyond that and deals more with how a user actually works with an application rather than just how he / she views the application. Be it web, mobile or even desktop applications, the availability of a more smooth and streamlined control flow for the user of the application to pass through helps to get things done more quickly and accurately. In addition, the most important thing is that the user is motivated to use the application again. Bad UX, on the other hand, always results in the user finding it more complicated to do what he / she intends to do, and therefore will not want to use the application again.

When it comes to designing proper UX, the key is to keep the user engaged at all times. For this, a number of different techniques are adopted in modern software. In a mobile app, for instance, special care is taken to ensure that the main functionalities and the most commonly used workflows are always available within the user's range of touch. There are special charts which illustrate this in more detail, but that is a topic for a different article. Instead, we will discuss a more common feature for all of desktop, web and mobile applications. This would deal with the user's eyes rather than his / her sense of touch. To elaborate, this is how the user's eyes will move across the screen when he / she is viewing a page, or a User Interface (UI) of the application. According to research, certain patterns can be predicted, by which we can enhance our applications by structuring the pages to make use of these regions where the user's eyes visit the most.

There are three most common design layout patterns when it comes to taking advantage of how people scan or read through a design. Out of these, we will discuss the basic two patterns, namely the F-pattern and the Z-pattern. The third one, which is the "Gutenberg Diagram", is a more complex layout which is used mainly for text-heavy pages, and can be discussed in a future article.

In most Western cultures, text is read from left-to-right and up-to-down. The Z-pattern uses this concept when arranging different elements in to the structure of a webpage. The human eyes follow this pattern mostly on pages that have large colorful and attractive graphical elements. The Z-pattern works better for looser, sparser websites and for specific pages such as dashboards, landing pages, home pages, etc.

Starting from point 1 at the top, the user scans from left to right in a horizontal line, to point 2. Then the eye goes down and to the left side of the page to point 3. This is mainly due to the reading habits of most humans. Again, from left to right in a horizontal line, the eye will scan through the page to point 4. This ultimately will form an imaginary shape like the letter Z.

It has different elements such as a logo, top navigation bar with links, a large graphical element in the middle, and some other content below it. Such a page is ideal for demonstrating how the Z-pattern works.

Each time a new website is created, designers solve a number of common problems, such as layout, navigation, login, profile and so on. And these problems are common because every new website has them. So no wonder someone once noticed that and started collecting solutions to solve them. Right now there are many different websites offering a wide range of web design UI patterns for this or that issue. In this article, we will take a look at design patterns that will be trendy this year, in our opinion. There are probably thousands of patterns for every element available out there, so in order to keep this article short, let's take a look at only five patterns that no doubt will be trendy this year.

grid-free layout

Having a container-free layout allows you to focus the user's attention more sharply on the content and highlight one message at a time, as such representation differs from the more traditional grid approach. Users 'eyes will see unfamiliar patterns, and thus you'll get their attention. It can be useful for websites that offer some new services or products to their customers, as this is one of the approaches that helps customers actually feel the "difference".


Though this pattern was introduced long ago, it is still one of the most powerful ways to design a content-heavy website and is one of the basic e-commerce website design features. It can be applied to any type of website, and the reason is that it allows for more items on a page, but at the same time it does not make the page look cluttered. Rather, the page seems well-organised. So this definitely will continue being one of the most effective UI patterns.

one page website

Even some web giants like Gmail, Spotify, and Tumbler use this one-page approach, as they tend to allow users to accomplish their tasks and goals within one page. This pattern is one of the best web application design patterns out there, which is why this it is too good to be left out.

Web Design Pricing 2020 Webby Mark Web Design Playa del Carmen

Cost, features, functionality They all impact the price of your perfect digital face. What should you spend And what can you expect from your investment

Web Design Pricing 2020 Webby Mark Web Design Playa del Carmen
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